"We have put Mulund on the world map", says Jain of Nirmal Lifestyle

Nirmal Lifestyle, the mega mall in Mulund, has created waves in Mumbai and beyond. Dharmesh Jain, the company's chairman and managing director, shares his vision of modern but affordable townships with Aruna Rathod

Dharmesh JainNirmal Lifestyle, your mall in Mulund, is so popular that it has even become a must on the itinerary of tourists and non-resident Indians. What went into creation of such a happening place?
We always felt that things should be kept simple for a lasting effect, and when we did our research before drawing up the blueprint for the mall, we found that the biggest premium [from the customers' point of view] was on open space. So we went ahead and left a lot of open space, with all the activity scattered around it.

Malls are the new spaces for urban convergence, and our philosophy is, just come and enjoy yourself - shopping is a by product. The idea has clicked, and we are all set to replicate the same philosophy wherever we do business. We are working on a few more world class malls.

The realty sector is abuzz with activity - builders are slashing prices of properties even as interest rates are falling. Is this the right time to buy or are we yet to hit rock bottom?
As far as the interest rates are concerned, it's an initiative taken by the government and the financial institutions to kick-start activity in the housing sector. The government had simultaneously approached the housing industry and requested the builders to drop prices, so that homes become more affordable. We have responded positively to this appeal and all builders have cut prices to the best of their ability.

The drop in interest rates and the correction in prices have led to a spurt in enquiries over the past few weeks, and we expect the conversions to materialize in the days to come.

As far a further drop in prices is concerned, the threshold level after factoring the land price and construction cost has been reached, and there's little scope for further cuts. In that sense, for the end-user, this is the right time to buy before prices rebound.

Is the drop in prices just in response to the government's appeal or is there also the influence of the unfavourable market conditions?
Actually, it is both. As the market is throwing up a new situation, the industry is responding with new initiatives to meet it. For instance, while there has been a slowdown in the premium sector, we have witnessed a sharp spurt in demand in the Rs25 lakh to Rs50 lakh segment. The great Indian middle-class, a bracket that was not earlier attended to, is now being addressed by the real-estate sector and there's a whole new wave of development in this market. Areas like Thane and the extended suburbs, which have these affordable homes, are registering good business.